Arizona Cardinals linebacker Leon Joe has been charged with carrying a pistol without a license in Washington, D.C. Joe was arrested last month after police said they found a loaded .45-caliber Kimber Eclipse Pro II in his vehicle.
Joe, 23, has a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
If Joe is convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of $5,000.
"It’s something I would call an unfortunate misunderstanding," Joe’s agent, Jerrold Colton, said Wednesday.
Cardinals spokesman Chris Melvin said the team was aware of the situation, then referred calls to the NFL.
It is against the NFL’s personal conduct policy to possess a weapon in violation of state, meaning Joe will be required to undergo a clinical evaluation and, if appropriate, additional counseling or treatment.
Players who are convicted may be fined, suspended or banished by the NFL.
According to court records, on the night of June 30, police approached Joe’s silver BMW after they saw it parked in a no-parking zone. They knocked on a window and Joe, shirtless and in the driver’s seat, refused to surrender his license and registration when asked.
When police searched the car’s center console, they found the pistol and a second magazine. They said they also found the butt of a marijuana cigarette.
Officers said Joe told them the gun was licensed in Maryland, where he attended college and still lives, and he kept it for protection.
Arizona opens training camp on July 31. Colton said the case probably will not be resolved by then.
Last season, Joe played in five games, mostly on special teams. He was a fourth-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears in 2004, and the Cardinals claimed him off waivers in September.